Presenters and Workshops

Keynote Speaker:  

VAN is excited to host Erica Mills of Claxon Marketing as our keynote!

The Language of Impact: how words can make the world a better place!Erica Mills Headshot_2010 11 18

You have 7 seconds to get someone’s attention. And then you have to keep their attention. You’ve got to seriously stand out from the crowd! Finding the right words will get you noticed by the right people–donors, volunteers, advocates, supporters, fans. Erica

Erica wanted the mission-motivated of the world to have a partner in messaging awesomeness. Thus Claxon.

Erica believes that EVERY organization can—and should—have a consistently compelling way to describe their organization, whether they’re talking, writing, or tweeting! She knows this isn’t an easy task and that’s why she creates tools to help organizations of all shapes and sizes tackle this tough challenge.

When working one-on-one or in small groups with clients, Erica asks a lot of questions about your ‘why’ (she’s a Simon Sinek fan), your belief proposition and your essence. She hammers away on your brand personality. It’s all a bit existential. But she’s so into it, you find yourself going along with it. And then—lo and behold—you realize this stuff works and you have focus and clarity and—woo hoo!—an elevator pitch you love!!!

Claxon is Erica’s third company. She recently realized she’s probably a serial social entrepreneur. (She’s down with that.) Previously she launched and ran Mills Communications Group, a marketing firm that helped those doing good get noticed, and LegalEase, a contract paralegal company focused on immigration and refugee law.

Erica likes writing a whole lot. She likes public speaking and teaching even more than writing. (Gasp!) She is a Lecturer at the University of Washington and Seattle University and a frequent speaker at conferences and venues where there’s a gathering of mission-minded professionals.

Check out her website at 

Workshop offerings at the 2014 Conference:

Changing Perspective: Engaging New Volunteers by Changing Your Thinking (best practices track)

with Amy Faulkner of the World is Fun

Volunteer Managers want to engage new volunteers into their organization but we often focus more on the needs of the organization over true volunteer engagement. By shifting the paradigm for how we work with and attract volunteers we can ensure long lasting relationships with new volunteers. You will get the opportunity to put this new perspective into use through scenarios and discussion.

Increasing organizational cultural fluency to support a diverse workforce with volunteers and staff (advanced track)

with Patrick Tefft, CVA of City of Kirkland & Hla Yin Yin Waing of the Center for Ethical Leadership

This workshop will explore the forward-looking approach of responding to diverse customers and volunteers through a pro-social-justice lens. Given that institutions shape the realities of those with whom they interact, an organization may need to intentionally invest in creating institutional change. We will examine requisite and foundational components of successful social justice initiatives. Participants will learn factors for assessing organizational readiness and strategies to enhance staff and volunteer cultural fluency.

Visualize Success: Breaking through Barriers to Achieve Your Mission (both tracks)

with Carol Ryan of Carol Ryan Consulting

Learn powerful techniques for making organizational–and personal–vision and mission statements come alive. You will hone your vision statement to break through barriers impeding your progress. You will leave the workshop with a vision board and exercises for visualizing and capturing inspiration that fuels action and effective change. Your thoughts and vision are powerful agents of change! (A system also used by the Seahawks!)

Playing Well Together: Creating a Supportive Volunteer Culture (both tracks)

with Marjorie Trachtman of the Bellevue Police Dept.

The most effective volunteer programs function as an embedded part of their organization’s culture. This workshop examines the characteristics of work environments that support volunteer engagement and the things that volunteer managers can do to build trust, support and investment in the program among executive leadership and paid staff.

Measuring Volunteer Outcomes (advanced track)

with Rick Lynch of Lynch Associates

One of the reasons volunteer programs are undervalued is that they do not measure the volunteer impact. Most programs can tell you the hours volunteers put in and many can tell you the dollar value of those hours, but they are too often at a loss to describe what was accomplished through those hours. In this session, participants will learn how to define the desired outcomes of the volunteer program. They will then learn the two key steps to measuring those outcomes. In the session, participants will apply the information to their own programs.

Skills Based Volunteering- A Conversation About the Opportunities and Challenges for Nonprofits and For Profit Organizations  (advanced track)

with Louis Mendoza of United Way with members from the Corporate Volunteer Council.

The engagement of skills based volunteers reaches across the volunteer ecosystem and touches both nonprofits and for profits. Finding ways to effectively utilize this growing group of volunteers will lead to an increase in volunteers and positively impact nonprofit organizations and the communities they serve. Members of the Corporate Volunteer Council of the Greater Puget Sound will be in attendance to add to the for profit perspective.

Gaining Top Management Support for volunteer programs  (advanced track)

with Rick Lynch of Lynch Associates

While most executive directors will say they support the volunteer program (often saying it is the life blood of the organization), their actions often indicate that it is less important than other, staff-driven activities. Salaries for Volunteer Program Managers are usually lower than other management personnel, budgets for the volunteer program (if there is one at all) are inadequate, and volunteers are often treated as outsiders rather than as equal members of the team. In this workshop, participants will explore six strategies Volunteer Program Managers can use to enhance executive support of the volunteer program.

Professionalizing Volunteer Management (advanced track)

with  Nikki Russell, CVA and WendiLee MacLeod, CVA

Nikki and WendiLee share why they went for their CVA (Certificate in Volunteer Administration) and how the process works. You may feel alone in your struggle to become accepted as a professional in your organization, but there are steps you can take to be taken seriously. Come and learn from these professionals.

Aligning Service with Strategy with (advanced track)

with Nikki Russell, CVA of United Good Neighbors of Jefferson County

Creating value in a volunteer program goes beyond counting hours. Strategically aligning service yields results that launches volunteerism into a highly valued partnership within an organization and connects people to service and innovation.

Youth Engagement (All tracks)

with Amy Franklin of United Way of Snohomish County

Management of youth volunteers goes far beyond recruitment. Work on strategies for engaging youth volunteers effectively, retaining them, and incorporating them into your organizational leadership. Example tools will be provided, such as position descriptions, activities/curriculum, and program applications.

Conversation Cafe:

Share best practices and brainstorm solutions to your most vexing volunteer management issues in small groups of your peers. We’ll take the top volunteer issues and problems identified in a poll pre-conference and break into table groups to work through them in two, 30-minute segments. This is a great way to apply what you learned during conference sessions to real-world challenges.

Click here to register!

Conference Day schedule
8:00 – 8:25 – Registration and Breakfast
8:25 – 8:35 – announcements & welcome; door prizes
8:35 – 8:40 – United Way sponsors welcome speech
8:40 – 9:35 – Keynote Speaker – Erica Mills
9:35 – 9:45 – break
9:45 – 10:45 – Workshop one
10:45 – 11:00 break
11:00 – 12:00 – Workshop two
12:00 – 12:15 break
12:15 – 12:45 – Lunch, door prizes
12:45 – 1:10 – Conversation Café (led by Rick Lynch)
1:10 – 1:15 – announcements, door prizes.
1:15 – 1:30 break
1:30 – 2:30 – Workshop three
2:30 – 2:45 break
2:45 – 3:45 – Workshop four plus Conversation tables on Topics from survey
(20 – 30 minutes per table then rotate)
3:45 – 4:00 – final door prizes and wrap up
4:00 – 6:00 – Happy Hour at Bahama Breeze at South Center Westfield Mall

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